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10 famous local foods to try in Nepal

Nepal is a hub for diverse cultures, and with that, it is also rich in cultural and traditional flavours. Most of its foods are inspired by its neighbouring countries but with their own unique twists. One will find a lot of food to try here.

If you are confused about what dishes to try from the multitude of options, here is a list to help you.

1. Dal-bhat

Dal-bhat is known as the staple food in Nepal and is available in almost every restaurant. It consists of rice and lentil soup which is paired with meat curries or any seasonal vegetables. Normally, that (rice) is served in metal plates while lentil soup in a separate bowl. If you are trekking, this dish will fill you with nutrition and it tastes amazing as well. So, don’t miss this national dish while you are visiting Nepal.

2. Sel roti

Sel roti is one of the traditional homemade foods loved by most Nepalis. It is a ring-shaped, deep-fried in ghee or oil, sweet bread made with granulated rice and is also known as Nepali doughnut. Sel originated in Nepal and is crucial during important Hindu festivals like Dashain and Tihar. It is also prepared in places of India like Sikkim and Darjeeling where ethnic Nepali people are present. Sel roti is easily available in local restaurants or street stalls. 

3. Chatamari

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the loved snacks, chatamari is a must-try when visiting the city. It is very popular among both locals and foreigners in Kathmandu. Chatamari is a Newari snack made of rice flour crepe and is cooked with various vegetable, meat or egg toppings. It is also called Newa pizza as it is round and is similar in shape and look. One can find it in every Newa restaurant. This snack never lets your tastebuds down.

4. Newa khaja set

Photo: Shankar Giri

Newa khaja set is another famous dish that is both tasty and nutritious. It is a combination of several items such as potato, eggs, beaten rice flakes, chhoila, soybeans, achar, etc. This cuisine is filled with its own authentic flavour and is great for your health as well. It is available in every Newa restaurant, listed under the main course as well. 

5. Momo

Chicken Jhol Momo

Another all-time favourite of Nepali people is momo. Although it originated in Tibet, it is safe to say that this is Nepali food.

It is a dumpling inspired by Tibetan culinary tradition but with more depth in flavour. It is one of the most loved snacks among Nepalis and somewhat in India. Here in Nepal, it is mostly made out of all-purpose flour and is stuffed with ground meat mixed with finely chopped veggies and other spices for flavour. One can stuff it with other combinations of stuffings as well. It can be found in both steamed or fried versions and is best served with tomato chutney or flavoured soup. Nowadays, it can be found in various types of variations in forms, taste and combinations.

6. Chhoila

Another Newa dish is chhoila. It is spicy, grilled buffalo meat which is popular among many meat lovers in Nepal. From fancy restaurants to street vendors, this dish is easily available all over Nepal. This mouth-watering dish is typically paired with chiura (beaten rice flakes) and is the most important ingredient of samayabaji. Traditionally, the meat used for chhoila is buffalo, but nowadays mutton, chicken, duck, or even mushroom chhoila are also available. 

7. Thakali set

thakali khana
Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Thakali set is one of the most popular food sets in Nepali cities and it originated in Mustang district. This highly demanded set consists of rice, locally grown buckwheat, millet, barley, maize, and dal. At first, kachhyamba, a buckwheat finger chips, is provided as an appetiser, then the main course is served. Rice, masko dal (black lentil soup), spicy potatoes, spinach, and meat curry are served in this course, and lastly for dessert, fermented rice (phopké) is included. So if you are someone who loves flavours, this might be the one for you.

8. Yomari

Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Another Newa dessert, yomari is so loved that it has its own festival celebrated as Yomari Punhi, usually around December. This festival marks the end of rice harvest for the Newa community and yomari is made and eaten on this day as a product of that harvest. Yomari is made with rice flour and is filled with molasses mixed with coconut or khuwa (dairy product). It is shaped like a fish or a fig and is sweet in taste. It is a delicacy that is available in various areas of Kathmandu city. 

9. Gundruk

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gundruk is a fermented leafy green vegetable pickle that is popular in Nepal. This food is also claimed as national food in Nepal. It is widely available in any Nepali or Gorkhali households and is valued for its unique appetising flavour. Gundruk is prepared by either boiling fermented leafy vegetables with mixed chopped onions, chillies and other spices or made into achar (pickle) straight from the jar. Either way, both taste amazing and are best when paired with dhindo. It is popular among both local and fancy restaurants and is listed as the main course in menus. Don’t miss out on your visit to Nepal.

10. Jujudhau

Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Jujudhau or the king’s curd is something that you will not find anywhere else. This is particularly famous in Bhaktapur of the valley. It is a thick and creamy curd, made with buffalo milk, which makes it so rich in flavour and texture than normal cow curd. It is freshly made and it is included in many Newa celebrations so one must visit Bhaktapur to try jujudhau.

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